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Children in five cities are going to be exposed to a lot more words.

That’s because Bloomberg Philanthropies has awarded these cities — Birmingham, Ala., Detroit, Mich., Hartford, Conn., Louisville, Ky., and Virginia Beach, Va. — a combined $12 million over three years to replicate Providence Talks.

Providence Talks – “the first-ever Grand Prize Winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge,” according to a Bloomberg press release – is a language-rich early education initiative that equips children with recording devices that track the words children hear and use each day.

The initiative has had “promising results, helping thousands of young children increase their language development. Today, we’re glad to help five new cities adapt the program and work to achieve similar progress,” Michael Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and the 108th Mayor of New York City, says in the press release. (more…)

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“In June, the city of Memphis, Tennessee, lost funding for 1,000 pre-K slots due to an expiring federal grant.”

“Instead of passively accepting the void in federal leadership, cities such as Memphis are finding innovative ways to bring together the public, private and nonprofit sectors to finance and expand needed services for children, and increasing pressure on local officials to reinvest in child services.”

“Pittsburgh provides a good example of a community that successfully implemented an innovative method to fund youth programming. In 2008, the One Hill Coalition, a diverse group of 100 community groups in the city, brokered a collective-bargaining agreement with the developers of the new Pittsburgh Penguins arena. The agreement created a youth center and invested $8.3 million in neighborhood improvements, much of which went toward youth development programs.

“Similarly, the mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, set an example by advocating for children and dedicating tax revenue from business tax breaks set to expire. These funds are going directly to pre-K programming, helping to cover the loss of funding for 1,000 seats due to declining federal investment. In total, the revenues will bring the city an estimated $6 million annually by 2022.”

“Opinion: Cities find new ways to fill pre-K funding holes left by the federal government,” by Jennifer Davis and Elizabeth Gaines, The Hechinger Report, September 24, 2019

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Photo credits: Kate Samp and Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

 

Although they frequently get lots of “likes” on Facebook, infants and toddlers still don’t get the public policy attention that they deserve.

Thanks, however, to a new initiative — the Massachusetts Partnership for Infants and Toddlers (MPIT) – very young children should get more policy respect.

The story of MPIT began earlier this year when Strategies for Children and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and the Merrimack Valley, along with a group of nonprofit partners, state agency representatives, and philanthropic funders, applied for a planning grant from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative.

Pritzker planned to award planning grants of $100,000 and actions grants of $1 to $3 million to states that submitted “winning proposals focused on expanding needed state and community services for children prenatal to age three and their families.”

Our goal was to use the Pritzker funding to create a statewide effort that would “result in a new (first-of-its-kind) state plan for infants and toddlers” as well as a new coalition focused on infants and toddlers. (more…)

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On Tuesday, September 10, 2019, Geoffrey Canada, president of the Harlem Children’s Zone, was the Stone Social Impact Forum speaker at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

In the audience were Amy O’Leary, the director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All Campaign, and Titus DosRemedios, Strategies’ director of research and policy.

Amy asked Canada about investing in early education. Here’s an edited version of their exchange.

Amy: “What is it going to take for us to change our priorities and invest more earlier to get the bigger outcome later?”

Canada: “The science on this is really clear, [but] we’ve got science that is not driving policy, and I think this is going to be another one of these movements. It’s one of the reasons that we are trying to advocate for comprehensive, cradle to career [approaches], which does not mean pre-K to career. It means cradle to career.

“The science on this stuff is really clear, what happens to those young brains when kids are six months, one year. And if you’re in communities where people don’t know how to stimulate those brains appropriately, that’s going to put that kid at a disadvantage. So the question is: What is it going to take? It’s going to take us not giving up. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp For Strategies for Children

 

Here’s some good news.

Holyoke, Lawrence, and Northampton have received state funded Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative (CPPI) grants that they can use to expand their preschool programs.

These towns join the first cohort of grantees: Boston, Lowell, New Bedford, North Adams, Somerville, and Springfield.

Here’s some bad news.

This fiscal year, Massachusetts has only allocated $5 million for CPPI grants. And that’s not enough to make up for the fact that federally funded Preschool Expansion Grants (PEG grants) have expired.

“Sadly, the budget did not include our primary ask of $25 million for preschool expansion,” Titus DosRemedios, Strategies for Children’s director of research and policy, writes in an Alliance for Early Success blog post. “This amount would have replaced expiring federal Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) funds ($15 million), sustained current state-funded preschool expansion grantees ($5 million), and expanded preschool in new communities ($5 million).” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Even though its federally funded Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) has run out, Springfield, Mass., is continuing to grow its preschool program.

“We win or lose the game at the preschool level,” Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Daniel Warwick said when his city won the federal grant.

The PEG grant supported 195 children in 11 classrooms through a mixed-delivery system that included the nonprofit organizations Square One, Holyoke-Chicopee-Springfield Head Start, and the YMCA of Greater Springfield.

Now, building on the catalyst of PEG grant funding, Warwick is ensuring that young children will keep winning.

“After a successful pilot program last year,” MassLive.com reports, “Warwick said the preschool programming will be extended to include 19 schools for a total of 643 seats, representing a district investment of more than $1.5 million.”

“Research shows that high-quality preschool provides a substantial head start for young students,” Warwick says in the article.

For children, the payoff is huge: (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

On July 31, 2019, Governor Charlie Baker signed the FY20 state budget into law. The new budget includes good news for early education and care, so please take a minute to thank the governor and members of the Legislature.

The governor did not veto any spending, preserving the $43.3 billion conference committee budget which was passed by the Legislature on July 22, 2019.

This year’s budget was bolstered by increased tax collections, and it includes a plan to control pharmaceutical drug costs, according to State House News Service.

The FY20 budget for early education and care represents continued progress and investment. This is the seventh consecutive budget since the historic spending low-point of FY13 that increases investments in young children, families, and early educators. It is the second year in a row that state investment has exceeded the pre-recession high-point of investment in FY09.

The FY20 budget also includes a $20 million rate increase for early educator salaries, $5 million in preschool grants through the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative, and $5 million in workforce development grants to community colleges. 

We’ve posted a complete list of early education line items as well as a Department of Early Education and Care funding trends chart  that covers fiscal years 2009 to 2020. 

So please let Governor Baker and your state legislators know that you appreciate them for investing in high-quality early education in this year’s state budget. 

For more information, contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org or (617) 330-7387.

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